RECORDS OF BUCKINGHAMSHIRE
OR PAPERS AND NOTES ON THE
HISTORY, ANTIQUITIES AND ARCHITECTURE
OF THE COUNTY
NB The headings shown in red below have been added and are not in the original publication.
Origins of the Abbey Order
The Abbey of Lavendon was founded in the reign of Henry II., by John de Bidun, in honor of John the Baptist.
The family of the Biduns succeeded to the estates of Hugh Beauchamp (Bello Campo) of Lathbury, who had followed William the Conqueror into England, and on whom he had bestowed the Manor of Benges, Herts, three other Manors in Buckinghamshire, and the greater part of forty-three Lordships in Bedfordshire.
This Abbey was of the Premonstratensian Order. The origin of this order is so interesting that I shall give it in the words of Mrs. Jamieson in her legends of the Monastic Orders. “This order,” she says “was founded by St Norbert in the 11th century. He was born at Cologne, was kinsman of the Emperor Henry IV., and though early intended for the ecclesiastical profession, in which the highest dignities awaited his acceptance, for several years he led a dissolute life in the Imperial Court. —One day, as he was riding in pursuit of his pleasures, he was overtaken by a sudden and violent tempest, and, as he looked about for shelter, there fell a ball of fire which exploded at his horse’s feet, burnt up the grass, and sank deep into the earth. On recovering his senses, he was struck with dismay when he reflected what might have been his fate in the other world, had he perished in his wickedness. He forsook his evil ways, and began to prepare himself seriously for the life of a priest and a missionary. He sold all his possessions, bestowed the money on the poor, reserving to himself only X marks of silver, and a mule to carry the Sacred vestments and utensils for the altar; and then, clothed in a lamb’s skin, with a hempen cord round his loins, he set out to preach repentance and a new life.
“After preaching for several years through the Northern provinces of France, Hainault, Brabant, and Liege, he assembled around him those whose hearts had been touched by his eloquence, and were resolved to adopt his austere discipline.
“Seeing the salvation of so many committed to his care, he humbly prayed for the divine direction, and thereupon the Blessed Virgin appeared to him in a vision, and pointed out to him a barren and lonesome spot in the valley of Coucy, thence called ‘Pre Montre’ ‘Pratum Monstratum,’ and hence the name adopted by his community ‘Premonstratensian.’
“Their dress was a coarse black tunic, and over it a white woollen cloak, in imitation of the Angels of Heaven who are clothed in ‘white garments.’
“St. Norbert lived to count 1,200 members of his community:- was created Archbishop of Magdeburg by the Emperor Lothaire, and after a most active and laborious ministry, died A.d. 1134.”
Foundation, Endowment and Benefactors
It was not long after his death (1154) that the Abbey at Lavendon was founded, and dedicated to the Premonstratensian Order. In the charter of its foundation preserved in Dugdale’s Monasticon, John de Bidun grants the site for the Abbey of St. John the Baptist near to Wardington (Warrington) with the adjacent lands, “Sartum scilicet de Hiltbeye,” and 20 acres of land near Walter’s bridge, and the park near Tynnockeswade (Tinnock Wood)—his property in the mill, called Hanslapesmilne, and two parts of the tithe of his Lordship of Lavendon; the tithe of his Lordship of Kirkby and Stowe, and all the Churches on his estates—the Church of Lathbury, (de Latebiri) and the Church of Wuttane, and the Church de Seltone—the Church of Stowe, and the Church of Kirkebi, and the Church de Thomestone, and the Church of Lavendon, “de confirmatione sancti Hugonis Linc. Episcopi.”
This seems to be the original endowment. I shall now mention the names of other benefactors to the Abbey.
Sibilla de Augervill gave “locum de Snelshall” (Snelson) and the Chapel of Tattenho.
Ranulph, Count of Chester, gave “terrain de la Lunde cum toftis et loftis ct messuagiis.”
Radulph de Bray—the wood of Hatheresey (now Addersley, near Eckley Lane), also a house in Rengo Mercatorum Northampt.
Richard de Wyleford—one hide of Land in Wiggele, and his property in Norhay.
Radulph de Bray—all his property in Hatheresay.
The Wife of Bertram Malme—her property in her mill at Hanslope.
Simon, Son of Guido—xix Selliones (5 sellions make an acre) and 5 acres of land and one messuage cum crofto in Lavendon.
Nicholes de Haversham } All the boscus de Ernesden,
Robert de Belauny } and the land under it.
Richard de bello campo (Beauchamp)—a parcel ofarable land in Monewade in Lathbury.
G. de Holneye—14 acres of land in Lavendon.
Simon de Holneye—6 acres of land in Lavendon.
William de Franciis—X acres of land, and again 13 acres in Lavendon.
Gervase de S. } X roods of meadow land in Fylgrave.
William, Son of Rolland }
Simon, Son of Hanson—5 acres of land in Bradele, 17 selliones terrae, and 3 roods and ½ meadow and totum assartum (arable land) in Lavendon.
Ermigard, d. of John dc Bidun—all the land of Brunesunde in Lathbury.
John, s. of Roger dc Lavendon—7 acres and a half of wood in Lavendon.
Guncod, Son of Robert de Braos—one piece of land in Harewold (Harrold).
Dissolution, Valuation and Disposal
At its dissolution in Henry VIII., its revenues were estimated at £79 13s. 8d. net. There were 11 canons, whereof nine were priests, and two novices. Servants 20, whereof waiting servants seven.—Hinds (servants in husbandry) eight; women for the day three ; children two. Bells, lead, worth by estimation £73 6s. 8d. The house wholly in ruins. The entire value of moveable goods £37 18s 10d. Stock none—debts none—woods 54 acres, whereof under 20 years growth 50.
Let us now see what account can be given of the disposal of the Abbey property. By patent 7 Edward VI., the King, for the sum of £1315 8s. 10d., paid by Hugh and Thomas Lawe, Haberdashers of London, granted to them tenements and lands belonging to the late Monastery of Lavendon.
The King also granted to Alexander Brett, for £842 11s. 10d., several pastures belonging to Lavendon Abbey in Weston.
Queen Elizabeth granted to Roland Heywood and Johanna his wife, all the houses and edifices, together with the site and precinct of the late Monastery of Lavendon, 75 acres, being in the field Culvervell; 65 acres in Downfield ; 80 in Ten Oak Field; 80 acres in Adersey; 22 acres in Windmill Close; 16 acres in Laundre; 4 acres in Highwood ; a waste or common called Pickmead in Warrington, with three watermills in Lavendon; one messuage and tenement in Brayficld ; 50 acres of land, and 11 acres of meadow, with the house called the Parsonage in Brayfield, and also the Lordship and Manor of Lavendon and Advowson, Donation and right of presentation to the Church of Lavendon, all belonging to the said Monastery.
The remaining history of the Abbey site may be told in a few words. Sir R. Heywood died 5th December, 1593. His heir sold it to Mr. W. Newton, of Yardley Hastings, Northampton, who, about 1617, sold it to Mr. Robert Eccleston, whose son or grandson sold it to Mr. Thomas Newton, in whose family it remained till Mr. Benjamin Brookes purchased it.
“The Abbey Church is said to have stood in a close above the house, where was a warren of rabbits which burrowed among the ruins, as I learn; but nothing of it is now to be discovered.” Feb. 22, 1760.
Joan de Bretagne, Lady Bassctt of Drayton, sister of John Duke of Brittany, died 1403, 4th Henry IV., and willed to be buried in the Chancel of Lavendon Abbey.